Mountain Biking at Manly Dam

Today was a public holiday in Sydney so thought I’d continue the sporting streak I seem to be on lately and go out Mountain Biking! After a bit of surfing (the web) I found a great track near Manly beach and a cheap rental place. They offer a few routes, ranging from beginners to advanced tracks. Cnfident as I was with my biking skills, I am dutch after all, I decided to go for the advanced Manly Dam trail.

Turns out my biking skills aren’t that good… Even getting to the start of the track proved to be a challenge. After about 500m I took a wrong turn leading me up some steep hills in the opposite direction. Luckily I brought my phone so eventually could work my way to the track using it’s navigation.

The track had some really rough terrain, there was hardly a visible trail and had a lot of big and slippery rocks. It had a lot of steep ascends which forced me to get of my bike cause it took so much energy but the big descends all made it worthwile! It’s a shame we don’t have these kind of tracks back home cause it was really fun to do and is really just about the best workout you can get!

All in all it took me about three hours to finish the track and I was glad I came out alive 🙂 When I got back into Manly I noticed a few live music stands and it turned out they had their annual Jazz festival. After buying some deodorant I relaxed and listened to some great music before taking the ferry back to Sydney.

Surf’s up dude!!

If there’s one thing you have to do when you’re in Australia, it’s surfin’!! One of the best places to learn how to surf around Sydney is at Bondi Beach. It’s only 30 minutes by train and bus from the centre of Sydney so on September 18th early morning I headed out the beach for my first lesson! When I got to the beach I started to get Serious doubts if this was a wise choice. The waves on the beach were really massive, some probably about 4-5 meters high! The shame of having to tell my collegues I chickened out finally drew me over the line and into the surf school though.. The guy behind the counter was busy on the phone and sounded apologetic. When he hung up he told me that unfortunately he had to cancel the lesson cause the currents were to strong to go out there surfing. I tried not to show, but I haven’t been so relieved in a long time! 🙂
I was at Bondi anyway, now with a lot of spare time on my hands, I decided to take the very popular Bondi to Coogee Coastal Trail. The trail follows the coastline south of Bondi beach past a few nice looking beaches up to Coogee beach. Had some lunch there and then jogged back to Bondi Beach to relax a bit before taking the train to a collegue for a nice BBQ.
Before leaving the beach I took a short stroll through the shallow water to cool off. Unfortunately this turned out to be a bad idea as I was completely surprised by a sudden huge wave, drowing my ipod and camera in the process! I tried to let them dry but when I turned them on the next day they were not showing any signs of recovery. Obviously a bit bummed out, I needed something to cheer me up and the best way to do that is to buy some new gadgets! Went to the apple store in the morning and got myself an Iphone 4 and also bought a new Canon IXUS 1000 HS to replace my drowned camera.

Since I still hadn’t done any surfing I rebooked my lesson to today. Luckily the sea was a lot calmer this week so after jumping in my wetsuit and an excessive amount of suntan lotion we got our boards and headed out to the beach. The two instructors were to real typical surfers, very relaxed with a strange accent. They taught us some things about riptides and currents and then showed us the basics on the board. After a bit of stretching it was time to hit the ocean! Although most of us had serious trouble staying on the board it was real good fun and after getting a bit of a feel for the water we headed back to the beach to learn how to stand up. Doing this stuff on the beach is a lot easier than trying to do it whilst catching a wave but in the end I managed to stand up and surf all the way back to the beach! Maybe I’ll squeeze in another lesson before I head back home…

NRL Semi-Finals

If there’s one thing the Aussies like apart from surfin’ it’ll be Rugby! There are two main forms of Rugby, the Rugby League and Rugby Union. I have to admit I’m not sure exactly what the differences are but generally the Rugby League is more aimed to spectators and Rugby Union it the toughest of the two.

The objective of the game is to get the ball into the in-goal area within six plays. If the engaging team doesn’t make it within those plays the other team gets possesion of the ball and will try to do the same. The game is played in two 40 minute halves with about a 10 minute break in between. The game goes on pretty much all of the time so no annoying breaks after each tackle like in American Football. The ball always have to be passed sideways or backwards.

The National Rugby League is coming to an end and my manager managed (!!) to score a few tickets for the semi-finals between the Dragon’s and the West Tigers. The game was held in the Olympic Stadium so me and a few guys from work took a cab up there and met up with the rest. The atmosphere there was really great, both teams were from the vicinity of Sydney so the game had a big turnout. Unlike some sports (you know who you are!), there wasn’t any aggression amongst the supporters and you can even bring alcohol into the stadium.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera so had to rely on my phone for pictures. I just bought the phone so didn’t know how to focus the camera yet (Really it was the phone, the amount of beers had no influence whatsoever on the outcome of these pictures!)

Afternoon off

According to the locals this year was one of the coldest winter. According to my standards the weather was nice but its really starting to get good now spring has arrived!

Since I had the afternoon off on Friday I thought I’d go up to the Botanic Gardens to test out my new camera and play some guitar. The park is very close to the Opera House and has good views over the water and city.  There were a lot of people about but after a bit of walking around I managed to secure myself a nice spot along the water. I’m still trying to get a handle of the camera but managed to snap a few nice ones.

Drag Races

Went out to the Sydney Dragway track with two collegues today. It might start to seem like I’m really getting into cars and bikes. The truth is that when the guys start to talk about V8 turbo diesel engines with nitrox boosters and whatnot, I just nod my head and smile like I understand what their on about…
I did really enjoy the day though, saw some really absurd cars which were more like engines on wheels and some real nice looking muscle cars which seemed to come straight out of a Starsky and Hutch episode!

At one point we saw a white van coming on the track and we assumed it was there to clean up or something. Turned out it was actually participating in the races and amazingly put down a pretty good time as well. They must have stuffed the back of the van with one big engine or something!

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Blue Mountains Bike Ride

This Sunday Christen, a collegue from the Sydney office, took me out for a bike ride through the Blue Mountains.

The Blue mountains is a region west of Sydney consisting mainly of sandstone plateaus, gorges and woodlands with the highest point being around 1km. It gets it’s name from the blue haze you see when looking out over the stretched land.

Christen frequently does roadtrips together with other members of the New South Wales HOG (Harley Owners Group) and they were kind enough to bring me along. Of course I wouldn’t jump on the back of a bike without proper protection so he hooked me up with a leather jacket and tough lookin’ helmet with a skull on the back!

He picked me up in the morning and drove to the meeting point at a Harley dealership to meet up with the rest of the guys. Most of them looked like you expect Harley rides to look, tough, bearded and wearing a lot of black but really were very friendly and welcoming.

Around 10am we all left together which was an impressive thing to see, 30+ bikes all riding together making a lot of noise. After about an hours drive the scenery started to change indicating we we’re getting near to the Blue Mountains. After stopping for a re-fuel we took off and had our first steep descent. The scenery was really amazing here and I felt comfortable enough on the back of the bike to take out my camera to shoot some pictures and movies.

About two hours later we took a turn into a dusty back road where the real fun started. The road had a lot of twists and turns so almost felt like a long rollercoaster ride. At the end of the road we arrived at a pub in a small town called tarana where we all had lunch together.

This marked the end of the trip and from there on the group split up into several smaller groups. We took a nice ride out through a dense forest area, stopping at a lunchroom for some drinks where we spotted some nice cars as well. The day ended with me and Christen riding into Sydney over the Harbour Bridge at sunset.

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Manly to Spit Scenic Walk

Took the ferry from Circular Quay up to Manly today. The ferry gives a great view on the opera house and the bridge so was a very enjoyable trip. After my bushwalk in the Royal National Park the day before which didn’t went as expected I thought I’d give it another go. I arrived in Manly around 12:45 and quickly found the signs to the Manly Scenic Walk. It’s a popular track of about 10km and follows the coast up to the Spit Bridge.
This route was a lot more accessible, has a proper stone path and no thick bush to wade through. The route has some good views out over the water and some nice small beaches so managed to take a few nice pictures. If I would do this route again I’d probably do it on a weekday as there were many people about.
I arrived in Spit around 4pm and from there took the bus back to Manly. Had a chicken burger at a restaurant along the boulevard and then took the ferry back to Circulair Quay. When the spring really starts I’ll go back to Manly to check out the beach and Surfers there, who knows maybe i’ll take up a lesson myself!

My first Bushwalk..

Left early morning to catch the 06:40 train to Otford. I thought I’d buy some water on my way to the station but it was a bit late already so figured I’d buy my ticket in the trainstation first. otherwise i could still buy some water in Otford, well i was wrong…
Arrived in Otford at 07:40, Otford Station is a very small trainstation and there’s really nothing out there, a few houses hidden in the woods, no coffeeshop, supermarket or anything in the vicinity. That meant no water so it was to dangerous to do the full 13km walk I had planned. The trainstation did have a small water tap though so I drank a lot of water and headed up the path for a shorter version of my walk.
I wasn’t even in the national park yet and already had to conquer some steep steps. Eventually I came to a lookout over the sea and started my walk. I was pretty worked up the first half hour since the path was a lot more dense than I had anticipated and was a bit nervous of the stories about the three poisonous snake species that live here. After an half an hour I relaxed probably because I was to tired to really care anymore! 🙂
I came up to an intersection and confidently took a right turn, not knowing yet that this was the wrong path. It led downwards through a very rough and narrow path, with a steep cliff of bushland right next to it. After about 45 minutes climbing over rocks and trees I turned the corner and got a real great view of a beautiful deserted beach!
Took a few shots with my camera and had some lunch on the rocks. When I wanted to continue my walk I realised I had been walking on the wrong track! Since I didn’t bring any water I didn’t want to risk it and decided to backtrack my steps back up to the intersection.
Walking down the track to the beach was pretty difficult but going back up really was a challenge. When you go back up you start to realise how steep the path actually is and having to climb rocks didn’t make it any easier. Eventually made it back to the intersection and from there took a different path that led me back to the trainstation.
Really enjoyed the walk but was dissapointed that I couldn’t do the trip like I planned it. Next bush trip will be better prepared! Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

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